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Personal profile

Academic background

Sara Colombo holds a MS in Design&Engineering and a PhD in Interaction Design from Politecnico di Milano. She spent part of her doctoral studies as a visiting PhD at RISE (Sweden). After her PhD, Sara worked at Politecnico di Milano as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Interaction and Experience Design Lab while being an Adjunct Professor in Design&Engineering and Interaction Design. In 2016, Sara joined Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Postdoctoral Associate in the Design Lab, where she became a Senior Research Associate and Project Lead in 2017 and a Lecturer in Interaction and Experience Design in 2019. In her work at the MIT Design Lab, Sara adopted design fiction to envision future solutions based on cutting-edge technologies and focused on human experience. She led teams of designers, computer scientists, and engineers in designing ecosystems of digital-physical solutions and in creating working prototypes as proof of concepts of future scenarios. In 2020, Sara worked as a Research Scientist and Principal Investigator at Northeastern University in Boston, where she launched the Design for emergency initiative and was awarded a TIER 1 research grant to explore how design can help to reduce misinformation on social media. She is currently an Affiliated Researcher at the Center for Design at Northeastern University. Since late 2020, Sara joined Eindhoven University of Technology as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial Design.

Education and Teaching

Squad: Inclusive Design and Thoughtful Technology (Squad Leader)

Research focus: I have a background in design, digital technologies, and tangible interactions. In my research, I explore how digital technologies, especially data and machine learning, transform the world we live in, and I investigate their implications on multiple levels. In particular, I develop methods to help designers leverage the potential of machine learning to generate adaptive physical-digital systems, with a focus on experiential and ethical aspects. I explore how these systems impact society today and what effects they will have in the future. I encourage designers to anticipate and assess the societal implications of their work by means of specific design tools and approaches, including design fiction and speculative design. Currently, I apply these tools and concepts to the areas of healthcare and digital wellbeing.

International network: Affiliated Resarcher, Center for Design, Northeastern University (Boston, USA).

Associate Member, Chaire Diament on Design for e-Mental Health, Universite du Quebec a Montreal.

Visiting Professor at Politecnico di Milano (Masters Program in Digital and Interaction Design and Fashion System Design).

Expertise areas related to TU/e Industrial Design: Creativity and Aesthetics; User and Society; Math, Data and Computing.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

External positions

Affiliated Researcher, Center for Design, Northeastern University

Visiting Professor, Digital and Interaction Design, Politecnico di Milano

Associate Member, Chaire Diament on Design for e-Mental Health, Université de Montreál


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